Little Squirt, female, scratching the old Lazy-Boy recliner.
Update: Born ca. 1987-90, probably closer to '90 than to '87, as she has aged quite gracefully, and remained quite the athelete till mid-2003, when thyroid problems hit, plus liver and kidney degeneration. I'll give her the best I can afford and let her decide when it's time to "call it a day." Meanwhile, I just keep singing to her, as that's what she seems to like the best.
Update: "The Little Squirt" died in my arms at about 10:45 A.M., PDT, on April 6, 2005. She was already very skinny and had begun to become slightly senile, sometimes even becoming lost in our house! She still ate (though not much) and retained what I consider a dignified continence until a day or two before the end.
I'd like to thank Ingrid of the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon in particular, Dr. Holmgren, and Baptist Pastor Rev. Perkins, for helping me through this very difficult week. Only time, nature, and patience can do the rest.
How Little Squirt Got Her Name
People (particularly our vet) criticize my having named her "Little Squirt," although only one individual was drunk enough to have the audacity to explain why!
I lived on the perimeter of a large park, away from the boulevard. Many people would dump their cats in the park thinking (wrongly) that cats can survive by catching mice.
Having literally been bred into existence, housecats, with very few exceptions, cannot survive without human care. Generation after generation of breeding and domestication has performed an inverse of natural selection, keeping strains of cats alive regardless of the inherited abilities (or lack thereof) to hunt, defend themselves, to fend off disease, tics, and fleas, and everything else that natural selection tends to fortify in a strain of organisms. The housecat thrives in an unnatural system of indoor life, scientifically balanced food, and veterinary treatment of diseases, and bred-in behavioral traits which render cats vulnerable to predators rather than wary of them. For the most part, they cannot adapt to life outdoors, without at least some kind of human care.
The first summer I had several strays hanging around, unbeknownst to the apartment manager, and was systematically finding homes for them all. Then this homely, flea-bitten, mangy, nothing of a cat with a pathetically scratchy voice and the persistence of a teenaged suitor took up residence on my wooden rocker. Mean as they come, she chased all the others away to where I had to feed them behind the planter box downstairs.
The implication is that of an old film where the "W. C. Fields" or "Mister Wilson" character says to the little boy, "Go away, you little squirt! You bother me!" Well, the cat didn't bother me in the least, except the inconvenience of having to feed the others downstairs, which was actually a plus because it lessened the chances of being fingered by the managers for having too many cats!
The Homely Cat, Who, Cleaned Up, Was Quite Pretty!
The rest is history. Squirt is the smartest and certainly the most physical of my cats -- ever!
squirt [skwurt] noun
2. offensive term: an offensive term that deliberately insults somebody's young age or small size, especially in response to perceived impudence (informal insult)
[15th century. An imitation of the sound of something being squirted (such as her voice at that time).]
1. deliberate rudeness: behavior that shows a lack of respect and shameless boldness